Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Breast Cancer Awareness

Mark asked me to write this post weeks ago. Since it's his birthday today, I thought I'd fulfill his wish to try to encourage women to get mammogram tests.

In 2003, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was lucky enough to survive it thanks to the doctor who diagnosed the disease at an early stage.

According to some medical research -- it changes daily -- 30 percent of daughters may inherit the disease from their mothers. So at the time, I made the obligatory visit to my doctor in Dallas who sent me for a mammogram test. It came back negative. I'm supposed to do the test yearly to stay on the safe side, which I didn't do.

When I visited my new doctor in Beaumont to get a sinus prescription, he advised me to get a PAP test and a mammogram. If you're a woman, you understand how much women despise these tests. Again, I tried to escape the tests until he sent me a kind letter encouraging me to do the tests.

Earlier this year, I started getting a sharp pain in my breast. It continued to get worse. This time, there was no way to escape the doctor visit. The PAP result came back negative. The mammogram result returned with a suspicion of an almost one-inch-diameter lump in my left breast.

Any woman, who receives the dreaded phone call from her doctor, understands what I went through that day. I was sent for another micro-film mammogram test followed by an ultrasound test. Then, we waited and waited because I took the test on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.

Only Mark and Mister Ghost knew about this news. Mister Ghost's candles and prayers really helped me feel peace inside while we waited on the results. For Memorial Day weekend, Mark and I went to Dallas to visit my family-in-law and friends. We decided not to tell anyone. There wasn't any definite result to tell them.

I played out many scenarios in my head. Like, I would grow thick hair after chemotherapy treatments. I bought more of Dave Barry humorous books to keep my spirit high if bad days were ahead of me. Strangely, I was OK with death and ready for it if I couldn't defeat the disease.

Luckily, the second test result was negative. I don't even need an operation to remove what they call a SIS (in medical terms). In six months, I must take another mammogram to make sure the SIS hasn't developed into something that requires surgery.

I'll most likely get the disease one day. More importantly, I learned the importance of a yearly mammogram test this time. I also learned from my doctors that women need to take these tests when they turn 35.

I also learned the disadvantage of caffeine. As I said above, I felt deadly pain in my breast and that's what caused me to go see my doctor. The mammogram technician advised me to stop taking caffeine drinks and switch to decaf.

You probably don't know that I live on Diet Coke and tea. But since she gave me the advice, I switched to decaf tea and caffeine-free Diet Coke. I had to take afternoon naps during the first two weeks from the lack of caffeine in my system. I beat this addiction easily and now I'm back to my normal sleeping hours. It was worth it because the pain stopped the day I switched to decaf drinks. Very strange.

I also learned that most women don't feel any pain until later stages of the disease. My mom had no pain. If it wasn't for her routine checkup, the disease probably would have spread further in her body and killed her.

Additionally, I learned young women have less chances to survive the disease because it's mostly diagnosed in an advance stage. Just this week, a daughter of an Iraqi family friend lost her battle with the disease. My dad said she was cured of the disease last year. But, it attacked her again this year and defeated her. She died at the age of 40.

Now, my new interest is to follow the advancement in breast cancer treatment. I encourage all women over 35 and/or with a family history of breast cancer to take the PAP and mammogram tests no matter how uncomfortable they may be. It's your life at stake.

I'm adding this post to my Pet Projects section on the sidebar. I'll add any medical advancements related to a disease to this post. This disease has killed many women. Let's diagnose and fight it.

Related Posts:
Curry And Breast Cancer.
Weight Gain And Breast Cancer.
Woad and Breast Cancer.

The Side Effect of Breast Cancer Drug Herceptin.
A New Blood Test To Detect Breast Cancer.

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